Mary McCoy Mary McCoy, LMSW is a licensed social worker who works closely with individuals, families, and organizations in crisis. She knows first-hand how financial choices can prevent and mitigate crises, and she's therefore passionate about equipping people with the information they need to make solid financial decisions for themselves and their loved ones. When Mary isn't on her soap box, you can find her hiking, jogging, yoga-ing, or frolicking with her family.
As any seasoned landscaper or gardener can tell you, a home’s landscape is more than just a few haphazardly placed trees and shrubs. It requires careful thought, planning, and research – not to mention hard work. Not only can well-designed landscaping increase the pleasure you derive from your dwelling, it can boost curb appeal if you need to sell your home.
Unfortunately, beautiful landscaping doesn’t usually come cheap. However, with a little planning, you can get a gorgeous outdoor setting with only a small upfront cost.
The idea of fuss-free income beckons many people into owning and managing rental properties, such as apartments, duplexes, guest homes, and even large houses. From the outside looking in, it appears that property owners simply sit back and collect rent checks on the first of each month, with little additional work. On paper, it’s a lazy (or savvy) worker’s dream come true.
Even with tighter regulations on property financing, folks with “normal” income from an employer can be approved for a home mortgage loan fairly easily. You simply have to prove that you have steady paychecks, a credit score of 640 or above, and enough money in the bank to cover your down payment.
However, if you’re a business owner or are self-employed, qualifying for property financing isn’t as simple. Regardless of your income, new federal regulations require self-employed individuals to jump through a number of hoops to obtain home loans, which means you may need to think outside the box to find the financing you need.
No matter your background, it’s likely that you’ve experienced a mixture of triumph and hardship in your life. Life is sprinkled with joyous occasions such as weddings and births, as well as heartaches like divorces and deaths. In between the highs and lows, much of the human daily experience is full of the mundane: commuting to and from work, doing the dishes, and shopping for groceries. All of these experiences elicit emotions that range from joy to sorrow to boredom.
Each year, at the end of a long, cold winter, millions of Americans breathe a collective sigh of relief with the dawn of spring. For many, warmer temperatures equate to spring cleaning, open windows, fresh breezes, and a blurred line between indoor and outdoor decor.
No matter how you celebrate the arrival of warm weather, make sure you update your home so that you and your family can enjoy the energy and vitality of the turning seasons. You don’t have to spend a fortune with these inexpensive and classic updates that will leave your home looking fresh and bright.
The emotional and financial benefits of charitable giving (including tax deductions) are well-documented, but the money and goods you give mean very little unless they produce tangible results. Unfortunately, not all charities serve the public good efficiently. Some even make national news for less-than-noble activities, such as misused funds, overpaid CEOs, and ineffective programs. Potential donors should do thorough research prior to giving their hard-earned dollars to a charity that may be under-performing or ripe for scandal.
The fact that charitable giving can help reduce your tax burden is well known, especially if you’re in a high bracket. But the benefits of giving extend far beyond tax breaks.
Of course, giving can be a challenge – especially when money is tight. After all, your income could just as easily go toward a college savings fund for your kids, a much-needed vacation, or even a new pair of shoes. But whether you’re interested in the tax benefits or have altruistic motives – or a little of both – you can end up getting back a lot more than you give when you donate valuable items, cold hard cash, or even your time to your favorite causes. In fact, the emotional, social, psychological, and financial benefits of charitable giving often outweigh the satisfaction of splurging on yourself or your family.
No matter who you are or what you do for a living, you have a limited amount of money, time, and energy in each day. Therefore, on a daily basis, we all have to make decisions about how we use our limited resources to solve our problems and dilemmas.
Surprisingly, one of the best things you can do to maximize your time and resources is to worry less about making the right decisions. Some decisions in life are worth spending a lot of time, money, and emotional energy to come up with the best possible solution for, but the consequences of other decisions aren’t important enough to warrant the same level of effort.
Freelancing sounds like the burnt-out worker’s dream come true. Freelancers are able to set their own hours, choose their own jobs, and be their own employers. Unlike some type of fantasy, however, freelancing is indeed very real work that comes with many challenges, in addition to its obvious benefits.
A wise step into freelancing requires a careful self-examination of your personality, strengths, and weaknesses to ensure that self-employment is right for you. Before you take the leap into freelancing, make sure you’ve done your homework so that you can be successful and self-actualized in your endeavors.
We are all familiar with the pounding heart, heavy breath, and nervous sweat associated with frightening situations. If your brain is functioning properly, fear is a natural instinct that informs you of danger and prepares your body to respond appropriately to a threat.
Sometimes, though, the wiring in highly evolved human brains can malfunction and cause fearful responses when no real threats are present. In turn, inappropriate fear responses can trigger many negative social, emotional, and financial consequences. In order to live responsibly and fully, it’s important to understand the source of your fears, respect your real and perceived threats, and mitigate inappropriate fear responses.
Experts have long recommended happy, stable marriages as the ideal setting for child-rearing. Unfortunately, half of all American marriages continue to end in divorce, and many of these breakups involve children. These statistics don’t even include the relationships between people who never married, but still had kids prior to the dissolution of their romantic partnership. Whatever your opinion is about the state of American marriages and relationships, it’s hard to argue against the need for consistency, stability, and effective communication between parents for the best possible child outcomes. In terms of child development, research has even indicated that a successful co-parenting partnership between exes is preferred to a two-parent home with ineffective or hostile communication between partners.
If you’ve ever pursued an ambitious goal, you’ve probably noticed that your resolve starts to wane after about four to six weeks. Even savvy goal-setters run into problems after a month of resolve, but the statistics are worse for those who set nebulous goals for their lives. In fact, a 2007 survey conducted by British psychologist Richard Wiseman found that 88% of resolutions end in failure, and that backsliding on resolutions usually begins just a few weeks after the start of the goal.
But you don’t have to let your resolutions and goals fall by the wayside. Before you abandon them in the face of challenges and mistakes, consider redoubling your efforts for successful goal achievement.
The dissolution of a marriage is an emotionally painful experience. The last thing you want to do is add financial troubles and complicated legal wrangling to the mix. Between attorneys’ fees and the expenses that come with splitting one home into two, too many divorces result in an obliteration of assets and tie up future earnings in the process.
However, if you believe you can work with your spouse toward an amicable split, you may find in divorce mediation an effective alternative to a traditional litigious proceeding. It can reduce the financial and emotional impact of divorce on you, your ex, and your children.
Social responsibility is the idea that human beings – either acting as individuals or corporations – are obligated to act for the benefit of society at large. With such a broad definition, it’s easy to see that people can manifest social responsibility in a variety of activities, such as utilizing green energy, volunteering at the local soup kitchen, or carpooling to work.
As uncomfortable and unpleasant as it is to hear about human trafficking, it is a social problem that’s alive and kicking in communities across the United States. And while no one truly wants to hear the horrific examples of human rights violations, it’s vitally important that Americans become more aware of the problem.
Awareness, as painful as it may be, is the first step towards action and social responsibility. Based on statistics and what’s known about the rise of human trafficking in the United States, it’s likely that trafficking is occurring in your hometown without your awareness.
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